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The EURO-WABB Project

An EU Rare Diseases Registry for Wolfram syndrome, Alström syndrome, Bardet-Biedl syndrome and other rare diabetes syndromes.

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Insulin. What does it do?

Glucose comes from the digestion of almost all foods, especially starchy ones. We need insulin to make energy from the glucose in these foods. Insulin is a special chemical (hormone) made by the pancreas gland, and allows the glucose from the blood stream to get in to our body’s cells to give us energy. Without insulin the glucose remains in the bloodstream and cannot give us the energy we need.

In someone who does not have diabetes the amount of insulin produced depends on the amount of glucose/starchy foods eaten and the energy used and needed.

Blood glucose level stays between 3.5 mmol/L and 7 mmol/L

What happens when there is not enough insulin?

When the pancreas fails to make enough insulin the glucose remains in the blood stream and the blood glucose level rises. This may come on gradually but eventually the glucose levels in the blood rise so high that they spill out of the blood stream through the kidneys and into the urine. The high blood sugar also pulls water out of the bloodstream, causing you to pass additional urine. This in turn makes you very thirsty. If the glucose in the blood cannot be used for energy the body has to find other alternative fuels. The body begins to use up fat stored around the body, and when fat is used to give the body energy ketones form. High blood glucose levels and ketones can make you feel very unwell.